Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Nutrition

9 Incredible Health Benefits of Almonds

In this article:

  • Different Varieties of Almonds
  • Health Benefits of Almonds
  • What Is the Nutritional Content of Almonds?
  • What Is the Best Way to Eat Almonds?
  • What Precautions Should Be Taken When Consuming Almonds?
  • Who Should Refrain From Eating Almonds?
  • Final Word

Almonds are nuts that grow on trees. They contain a lot of nutrients such as protein, fiber, heart-healthy fats, and other essential vitamins and minerals including calcium and vitamin E. (1) These nutrients help with disease prevention and improve your general health.

Different Varieties of Almonds

Almonds are grown in many different places around the world, and therefore there are many varieties of almonds.

California alone grows 30 different varieties of almonds. (2) According to almonds.com, the nonpareil almond variety is most popular in California and makes up about 40% of the annual production.

Health Benefits of Almonds

Adding almonds to your diet can help improve your health in the following ways:

1. Improves brainpower

Almonds are full of vitamin E, a vital antioxidant that can help improve your brain health. Consuming vitamin E regularly may help prevent dementia and may slow the progression of dementia for those who suffer from it. (3)

2. Lowers bad cholesterol levels

Almonds are a great source of mono- and polyunsaturated fats that are credited with cardioprotective properties, mainly because they help bring down bad cholesterol levels. (4)

Bad cholesterol sticks to the arterial walls, builds up over time, and eventually hardens to constrict blood flow. Healthy arteries tend to expand to accommodate increased blood flow, but they lose this flexibility when choked with cholesterol.

Since there is lesser space for the blood to pass, the blood exerts greater force on the hardened walls of the arteries, which is known as high blood pressure. This paves the way for other more serious heart diseases.

Eating more of heart-healthy fats helps cut down your intake of unhealthy saturated and trans fats that add bad cholesterol to your blood while reducing good cholesterol, and adding almonds to your diet is a step in that direction. (5)

3. Helps control diabetes

Almonds are high in fiber and protein and therefore can help slow down the uptake of sugar in the bloodstream when eaten with carbohydrate-containing foods. (6)

Protein takes a long time to digest in the stomach, and fiber adds bulk and gives you a feeling of fullness after eating, which can also help prevent patients with diabetes from overindulging. (7)

Almonds themselves are lower in carbohydrates and, when eaten alone, would not cause an increase in blood sugar.

4. Aids in weight loss

For patients wanting to lose weight, consuming adequate amounts of fiber and protein is important to feeling fuller and more satisfied after meals and snacks. Since almonds contain both fiber and protein, they make a great addition to a diet for promoting weight loss.

However, almonds are also high in heart-healthy fats, increasing their caloric content. Thus, when consuming almonds while trying to lose weight, it’s important to control the serving size. For most people, 1/4 cup or the size of the palm of your hand is an appropriate serving for almonds. (8)

5. Prevents birth defects

Almonds are replete with folic acid, so much so that eating only 1/2 cup can help meet 13% of your recommended daily intake (RDA). 

Folic acid is particularly important for pregnant women or those planning to conceive as it helps with the healthy growth of the baby. During the initial phase of the pregnancy, folic acid is used to develop the neural tube of the fetus. The lack of this vital nutrient can give rise to neural tube defects such as spina bifida. (9)

This is why you must up your intake of folic acid supplements when expecting as your body will need more of it than usual. In fact, folic acid supplements are a standard part of prenatal care that has to be started when you are trying to conceive and continued throughout the pregnancy.

6. Prevents constipation

Almonds are high in fiber, which helps to add bulk to the food going through your gastrointestinal tract, helping to keep it moving. Hence, almonds promote regular bowel movement and prevent constipation. (10)

A fiber-rich diet also helps with weight management since it helps you feel full for a longer period. (11)

7. Strengthens bones

Almonds contain calcium, which is important for bone health. (12) One cup of almonds contains almost 10% of the daily value of calcium.

Adults need adequate intake of calcium each day to preserve the strength of their bones. A calcium deficiency, on the other hand, can lead to brittle bones and osteoporosis. (13)

8. Supports skin health

Vitamin E is an antioxidant important for a variety of organs in the body including the skin. There is mixed research on the benefits of vitamin E in preventing wrinkles. However, vitamin E has been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory properties on the skin. (14)

Consuming almonds may be beneficial for overall skin health since they are high in vitamin E.

9. Contributes to hair growth

Almonds are a good source of folic acid, which may help promote hair growth. (15)

What Is the Nutritional Content of Almonds?

One-fourth cup of raw almonds provides 160 calories, 6 grams of protein, 14% of the daily value of fiber (anything 10% or over is considered a good source), and essential vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium, and riboflavin.

What Is the Best Way to Eat Almonds?

Almonds can be consumed in a variety of different ways!

You can make them part of a well-balanced snack by having them with a small piece of fruit; you can also add them to a salad to increase your intake of protein and heart-healthy fats.

Almonds are also a great addition to oatmeal or yogurt. There are also almond butters available that go great on whole-wheat toast, crackers, or celery.

What Precautions Should Be Taken When Consuming Almonds?

For people with tree nut allergies, almonds and products containing almonds should be avoided. (16)

Raw almonds may also be difficult to chew for people with dental issues. In this case, selecting almond butters or chopped almonds would be preferred to avoid pain while eating.

Who Should Refrain From Eating Almonds?

Anyone allergic to tree nuts should avoid almonds and products containing almonds.

Moreover, some people on a low-fiber diet due to gastrointestinal issues should also avoid almonds since they are high in fiber. For example, people suffering from diverticulitis should avoid nuts and seeds so they don’t exacerbate their condition.

Final Word

It’s important to keep in mind that almonds alone are not a cure-all.

They contain many important nutrients as listed above; however, it is beneficial to incorporate them into a balanced diet rich in lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and a variety of fruits and vegetables in order to get their full nutritional benefits and to help prevent disease and improve overall health.

References

  1. Barreca D, Nabavi SM, Sureda A, et al. Almonds (prunus dulcis mill. D. A. Webb): A source of nutrients and health-promoting compounds. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146189/. Published March 1, 2020.
  2. Gradziel TM. Redomesticating Almond to meet emerging food safety needs. Frontiers in plant science. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7304334/. Published June 12, 2020.
  3. Browne D, McGuinness B, Woodside JV, McKay GJ. Vitamin E and alzheimer’s disease: What do we know so far? Clinical interventions in aging. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6645610/. Published July 18, 2019.
  4. Kalita S, Khandelwal S, Madan J, Pandya H, Sesikeran B, Krishnaswamy K. Almonds and cardiovascular health: A Review. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5946253/. Published April 11, 2018.
  5. Siri-Tarino PW, Chiu S, Bergeron N, Krauss RM. Saturated fats versus polyunsaturated fats versus carbohydrates for cardiovascular disease prevention and treatment. Annual review of nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4744652/. Published 2015.
  6. Grundy MM-L, Lapsley K, Ellis PR. A review of the impact of processing on nutrient bioaccessibility and digestion of almonds. International journal of food science & technology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5003169/. Published September 2016.
  7. Lattimer JM, Haub MD. Effects of dietary fiber and its components on Metabolic Health. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257631/. Published December 2010.
  8. Brown R, Gray AR, Chua MG, Ware L, Chisholm A, Tey SL. Is a handful an effective way to guide nut recommendations? International journal of environmental research and public health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8345392/. Published July 23, 2021.
  9. Folic acid for the prevention of neural tube defects. American Academy of Pediatrics. committee on Genetics. Pediatrics. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10429019/.
  10. Lambert K; Bird L; Borst AC; Fuller A; Wang Y; Rogers GB; Stanford J; Sanderson-Smith ML; Williams JG; McWhinney BC; Neale EP; Probst Y; Lonergan M; Safety and efficacy of using NUTS to improve bowel health in hemodialysis patients. Journal of renal nutrition : the official journal of the Council on Renal Nutrition of the National Kidney Foundation. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32001127/.
  11. Kong F, Singh RP. Digestion of raw and roasted almonds in simulated gastric environment. Food Biophysics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2854608/. Published 2009.
  12. Price CT, Langford JR, Liporace FA. Essential nutrients for Bone Health and a review of their availability in the average North American diet. The open orthopaedics journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3330619/. Published 2012.
  13. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium. Overview of calcium. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56060/. Published January 1, 1970.
  14. Schagen SK, Zampeli VA, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Discovering the link between nutrition and Skin Aging. Dermato-endocrinology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/. Published July 1, 2012.
  15. Harvey CJ. Combined diet and supplementation therapy resolves alopecia areata in a paediatric patient: A case study. Cureus. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7721078/. Published November 7, 2020.
  16. Bezerra M, Ribeiro M, Igrejas G. An updated overview of almond allergens. Nutrients. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8399460/. Published July 27, 2021.